LOS ANGELES – Joel Embiid described this past weekend as special, probably more special than it should have been.
"Best because I've been through so much, coming from the Cameroon, playing JV [at Montverde Academy in Florida] my junior year [of high school], and then transferring to another school [The Rock School in Florida] and then going to Kansas," the 76ers center said Sunday after the NBA All-Star Game at the Staples Center.
Embiid had 19 points, eight rebounds, one assist, one steal, and two blocks for Team Stephen, which lost, 148-145, to Team LeBron in the All-Star Game at the Staples Center. The teams were named after Golden State Warriors point guard Steph Curry and Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James, the top vote-getters in the Western and Eastern Conferences, respectively. Players on the winning team received $100,000 each. The losers got $25,000 each.
The Sixers standout also competed in Friday's Rising Stars game and Saturday's Skills Challenge. But after Sunday's game, he continued to reflect on his journey.
Embiid spoke of how he planned to be at Kansas for four or five years (assuming he redshirted) before ultimately deciding to leave after his freshman campaign. He talked about how his NBA career was delayed for two seasons because of two foot surgeries and than seeing last season cut short because of left knee surgery.
"But this has been amazing," Embiid said. "As a team, it has been up and down, but we are starting to figure out how to play with each other.
"Now, me being here, like I said, it was extremely special. I'm just happy to be here."
He said learning how to be a pro was the biggest thing he got out of this experience. Embiid received that from being around the other all-stars, seeing how they act and the way they play.
"During the whole season, I kind of thought that I was a top-5, top-10 player in the league," he said. "Coming in here before the game, I wanted confirmation of it. And I felt like I can hang with them. But I had a lot of fun."
While the two were on the bench, Embiid picked Curry's brain about being a pro. He and Boston Celtics all-star Al Horford were taped discussing who's the greatest NBA player of all time. Embiid said he conversed with "all of the guys" on Team Stephen, but singled out his conversations with the Minnesota Timberwolves' Karl-Anthony Towns, the Houston Rockets' James Harden and the Warriors' Draymond Green.
"We talked a lot about him not being able to guard me," Embiid said of Green. "Then, of course, he mentioned when they came back … when we blew the [24-point] lead against them. Of course, he had to mention that."
Now that this experience is over, he looks forward to traveling to Philly and sleeping in his bed … "a lot."
Embiid said this weekend was "too much," so he has to stay off his feet.
"Sleep in my bed and get ready for the second part of the season," he said.